How Many Hours Can You Work at 15 and Under?  Guide to Working Hours & Breaks

Child workers aged 13, 14, & 15 have different laws on their working hours and breaks than other employees. Our guide looks at how many hours can be worked at age 15 and under. We’ll also look at the regulations on working hours, and break entitlements.

worker under 16

What is the Minimum Age to Work?

The law says that children under the age of 16 can’t work full time. Young workers are allowed to have a part time job from the age of 13. There are strict rules and regulations around their breaks, shifts, and working hours.


Exceptions to Minimum Working Ages

The youngest age a child can work part time is 13. There are some exceptions to this in the following industries:-

  • Television
  • Theatre
  • Modelling

Children who work within these industries will need a license, and there are laws governing their working hours.

For children under school leaving age, the rules on working hours and break entitlements are different to those aged over 16. You can find out how many hours you can work at 16 & 17 in our guide to the law for young workers in that age group.


Working Hours for Under 16s

The legal working hours for under 16s are split into two age groups. 13 & 14 year olds have a different set of rules to workers aged 15 & 16.

Workers under 16 are expected to be in full time education, so there are different rules on working hours during term time and holidays.


How Many Hours Can a 13 to 14 Year Old Work?

13 & 14 year old workers have restrictions on shift lengths and the amount of hours they can work per week.

  • During term time – Workers aged 13 & 14 can work a maximum of 12 hours per week.
  • During school holidays – Workers aged 13 & 14 can work a maximum of 25 hours per week.

School Term – Shift Lengths for 13 & 14 year Olds

  • Sundays & weekdays – maximum shift length of 2 hours.
  • Saturdays – Maximum shift length of 5 hours.

School Holidays – Shift Lengths for 13 & 14 year Olds

  • Saturdays & weekdays – maximum shift length of 5 hours.
  • Sundays – Maximum shift length of 2 hours.

How Many Hours Can a 15 to 16 Year Old Work?

There are some differences in child working hours from 15 years old, with the ability to work some longer shifts during term time and more hours during school holidays.

  • During term time – Workers aged 15 & 16 can work a maximum of 12 hours per week.
  • During school holidays – Workers aged 15 & 16 can work a maximum of 35 hours per week.

School Term – Shift Lengths for 15 & 16 year Olds

The main difference in working hours for 15 & 16 year olds is the ability to work a longer 8 hour shift on a Saturday.

  • Sundays & weekdays – maximum shift length of 2 hours.
  • Saturdays – Maximum shift length of 8 hours.

School Holidays – Shift Lengths for 15 & 16 year Olds

  • Saturdays & weekdays – maximum shift length of 8 hours.
  • Sundays – Maximum shift length of 2 hours.

Work Hours for Children Under 16

There are also rules on work hours for under 16s and limitations on the types of jobs that they can do. There may be different limitations of specific job types in your local area too.

Work hour rules are the same for workers in the 13 & 14 and 15 & 16 age groups.


Hours of Work & Breaks

Children aged 13 to 16 must not work:-

  • During school hours in term time.
  • Before 7am or after 7pm.
  • For more than an hour before school.
  • More than 4 hours without a break of at least 1 hour.
  • In industrial environments such as factories.
  • Without having at least 2 weeks off during school holidays each year.

There may also be local bylaws about what types of work children can do. Check the council website for your local area to find out more.

School Age Children & National Minimum Wage

Children aged under 16 are not entitled to national minimum wage, and do not have to be paid via PAYE. Once a child is 16, they are entitled to an hourly rate of £4.81 per hour.  Wages need to be reported to the HMRC via payroll even if no deductions are to be made.

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